Mar 01, 2013 • By

A thirst for global knowledge

Four juniors from St. Paul, Minnesota, Central High School and their teacher will be going  to Washington, D.C., in April to take part in the finals of Academic WorldQuest, a flagship youth education program of the national network of World Affairs Councils of America.

Haroun Khalid, Elsa Mundt, Linnea Peterson and Bhavana Suvarnacoached by  Ethan Cherin edged out 16 other Minnesota high school teams  in the 5th annual  global general knowledge quiz event sponsored by the Minnesota International Center.

We hosted the event at our world headquarters in Minneapolis, and I had the honor of serving as emcee. We were also co-sponsors as was the David Winton Bell Foundation and the Consulate General of Canada.

In the past, we’ve held similar quiz competitions at General Mills for employees as a way to highlight the growing international nature of our business.

Our international sales (when you include our share of joint ventures) now make up nearly a third of our total sales – up from less than 5 percent in 2000. We’ve been on a fascinating learning curve as we’ve expanded in Brazil, China, France, India and many other countries and regions.

As much as I’ve learned as a research and development director in our International division, I was really impressed with these high school teams.

They obviously had studied hard as they answered questions on a broad range of topics, including world geography, current events, the Cuban missile crisis, U.S. energy policy, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and a special section on Canada.

Jamshed Merchant, the Canadian consul general for a five-state area in the Upper Midwest, attended the event and was the quizmaster for the round on Canada, this year’s country of focus for the Minnesota International Center.

Between rounds, he played a DVD showing students from around the world having great experiences while attending  Canadian universities, hoping to inspire some students to consider these colleges.

The teams were welcomed to General Mills by David Clark, president of our largest global brand: Hӓagen-Dazs ice cream. He explained that growing globally is a key strategy for companies like General Mills and that we are always looking to hire people who have an understanding and curiosity about the world.

Carol Engebretson Byrne, president of the Minnesota International Center, agreed.

“Now more than ever, there’s a need for educated, engaged and global students,” she said. “And this is a great way to encourage and reward a lifelong interest in education and international affairs.”